No buyers for former-MTS assets

2 Jul 2013

A scheduled auction for the assets of closed Russian-backed cellco MTS Uzbekistan has failed after no bids were entered, Telecompaper writes, citing Russian news agency RIA Novosti. An entry price of UZS600 billion (USD285.04 million) was set for the assets, although bidders required to pay a deposit of UZS120 billion (20% of the reserve price) to participate.

As previously noted by CommsUpdate, the Russian-backed unit had its operating licence suspended in June 2012, before being stripped of the concessions two months later. Uzbek authorities accused the cellco of a slew of regulatory and criminal infractions, varying from failure to acquire the correct permissions for base stations to laundering cash and tax evasion. Seemingly confirming suspicions that the allegations were part of a shakedown, in September the cellco’s assets were seized, although the decision was later overturned and replaced by a fine of USD600 million imposed on the provider. MTS filed for bankruptcy in January 2013, claiming that it did not have the funds to pay the penalties and was recognised as such by the Tashkent Economic Court in April.

Uzbekistan, UMS (Mobiuz)